HUD Investigates Homeless Shelter Dispute

Dec 3, 2012

Credit Matt Goins / Lexington Herald Leader

There’s movement in Lexington’s dispute with a downtown homeless shelter.  The operators of the Community Inn have dropped a lawsuit against the city.  And the Lexington leaders are helping them find a new location. But, a resolution is likely still months away.   City officials have given the operators of the Community Inn a list of new locations for the shelter.   Lexington’s Board of Adjustments revoked the Inn’s permit in June….saying the facility violated zoning requirements.  Initially, the Inn had until this Saturday to move.  But, the city has extended the deadline until April and is now providing assistance.

Derek Paulsen is Commissioner of Planning in the Mayor’s office.

“We’ve given them a list of properties and I think they’re still several stages left to do of analysis as to where they could go including some public input, but that’s where we are at this point,” said Paulsen.

However, Ginny Ramsey, who founded both the Community Inn and the Catholic Action Center in downtown Lexington, estimates it could be another ten months before they could make any move.  Ramsey says just setting up the Community Inn at its current Winchester Road site cost about 93 thousand dollars.  She says adds the organization would be hard pressed to finance another move. 

“We all know this community cares about the least of its brothers and sisters and we’re not gonna have the doors of the Community Inn closed without having an alternative location,” said Ramsey.

The homeless sleep at the Community Inn overnight and can get a meal at the Catholic Action Center, which is located on 5th Street.  Clothing and laundry services are available to homeless residents at another site on Seventh street.  Ramsey says it would be nice to consolidate all those services at a single location on Seventh Street.

“We would be happy to put the Catholic Action Center and the Community Inn under one roof.  Now, that means a larger place so that everything could be accommodated, the three meals a day, the showers, all the things that go on at the Catholic Action Center, plus a place for the folks to sleep.”

Ramsey has also ended a legal action against the city. She says the operators of the Community Inn would rather work with city leaders than engage in a court battle.    However, there is confirmation of an investigation by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Neither federal nor city officials would comment, but, it’s the result of a complaint filed with HUD.